• Award Category: Outstanding Educational Leader
  • Introduction: Ms. Deepa is Principal of Sacred Heart Degree College for Women, Bangalore
  • Achievement: Helped Students and Faculty at Sacred Heart Degree College for Women, Bangalore, through a series of initiatives including Scholarships, Loan Facility and Digital Assets for Online Learning

COVID-19 has transformed the world as we know it. While the catastrophe has impacted everyone, it has affected some of us more than others; especially those who come from marginalized sections of society. When it comes to education, students from poor and rural backgrounds were hit the hardest during the pandemic. Be it access to digital learning tools or financial resources to continue their studies amid lockdowns.

These were the major challenges faced by students and faculty members at the Sacred Heart Degree College For Women, Bangalore. Being a minority College for women, most of the students and faculty members are from underprivileged backgrounds. To help them, Ms. Deepa Muthu – Principal, of Sacred Heart Degree College, launched a series of initiatives and ensured academic continuity for them.

Her Inspiration

Being a leader is more than just a position or a chair; it is about making a difference in others’ lives. When it comes to leading her college, Ms. Deepa Muthu believes that true leadership is all about empowering others and this becomes even more important for her as she leads an all-Women college where over 65% of the students belong to SC/ST/minority. 75% are first-generation students and come under the low-income group.

During the pandemic, Ms. Muthu decided to empower her students to make strong and better decisions to help them navigate through tough situations. She along with her team of faculty members took up the role of frontline COVID-19 warriors and helped students manage financial difficulties and economic hardships to ensure academic continuity.

Financial Support to Students

COVID-19 induced lockdown impacted students from poor and marginalized backgrounds the most. While most students in urban and financially stable households were able to continue their academic activities digitally, the reality was in complete contrast when it came to students from Sacred Heart Degree College, Bangalore.

The biggest challenges faced by students of Sacred Heart Degree College for Women, Bangalore were financial difficulties and economic hardships. With over 65% of students coming from marginalized communities and over 75% of the students being first-generation learners coming from low-income groups; the college had a tough task ahead of itself when it came to ensuring academic continuity for them. To help them sail through this tide of economic downturn, the college took a series of steps and launched multiple initiatives to help the students.

The burden of financial challenges faced by them was so great that over 5% of students had requested the college to cancel their admission as they would be unable to pay the requisite fee. Such students were encouraged to continue their studies and were offered scholarships and other financial support to be able to do so. The college also announced a 50% fee concession for students who lost their parents due to COVID-19, to extend a supporting hand in their struggle during the pandemic. The college also distributed dry ration kits among students from very poor backgrounds to help them overcome the economic hardships faced by their families due to lockdown and loss of livelihood.

Bridging the Digital Divide

Another major challenge for the students of Sacred Heart College for Women, Bangalore, was the digital divide. Coming from poor families, most students didn’t have access to phones or computers on which they could attend online classes and continue their studies. Even for a few students who had access to devices internet connectivity was a major problem.

To address this challenge and ensure that students can continue learning amid the lockdown, the college provided students with computers and systems. Moreover, the college also offered in-house computers and a Wi-Fi facilities to the students for attending online classes. For students who didn’t have stable internet connectivity or missed attending the classes due to low data balance or power cuts, online lectures were recorded and sent to them later on. Thanks to these efforts of the college, students of Sacred Heart College for Women put up an exceptional performance in the exams overcoming all odds. The growth in overall pass percentage during the pandemic stands as proof of the impact that these small but very critical initiatives had on the life of students.

Faculty Development Initiatives

Along with students, faculty members were also hit with the pandemic and its impact could be seen on their lives as well. The sudden switch to online or virtual classrooms was not an easy one for even the faculty members, many of whom were not too aware or familiar with digital tools and techniques of online learning. To help them shift to digital classrooms, students were given adequate training on using different platforms of virtual teaching. Creation of video lectures, PPTs, Digital Study Materials, and Video Recording of their sessions which can be used later on by students to refer while studying. Moreover, for faculty members who were suffering financially, a loan facility was also provided to help them sail through the tough times.

Awards and Accolades

Ms. Deepa Muthu has been appreciated and acknowledged for her efforts by several independent agencies. Some of the key awards and recognitions received by her are:

  • Most Promising Degree College of the Year-2020 award by National Educational Excellence Award: Sacred Heart Degree College has received the prestigious award for its contribution to Quality Education and Women Empowerment.
  • Most 50 Promising Degree College of the year -2020 award by National Educational Excellence Award and Conference.
  • Best Degree College for Women awarded by the Global Triumph Foundation at World Education Conclave-2021.
  • Best Performing Institutional Award by International Business Council, New Delhi on 5 May 2021.
  • “Leading and Most Trusted Women’s Degree College of the Year 2021, Karnataka" under “Innovative Teaching Approach, Outstanding Administration, Excellent Results & Social Contribution” Category for the year 2021 on 23 September 2021 by BEGIN UP RESEARCH INTELLIGENCE PVT. LTD at Taj West End, Bangalore.

The Way Ahead…

With the pandemic impact receding by the day, the Sacred Heart College for Women, Bangalore has also transitioned into hybrid mode. Ms. Muthu is now trying to help students and faculty members to adapt to the new normal. In the near future, the college plans to empower its students to only excel in academics but also empower them to shine in other key aspects as well. The college has also been promoting students to take up diploma and certificate courses which are available online along with their regular degree level studies. The college has also introduced some in-house virtual certificate programmes that students can take advantage of to groom their skills and be job-ready.

Ms. Deepa Muthu is a finalist for the Outstanding Educational Leader Award Because… during the 2nd wave of COVID-19, she empowered her students and faculty members to persevere against all odds and overcome financial and economic challenges to continue their studies and excel.

To Reach the Information Dossier Shared by Deepa Muthu Click Here.